Posting remains light for now. I was planning on writing a review of the new TV on the Radio album; it's half done, and I may still post it next week. But FYI: Return to Cookie Mountain is fucking terrible. I'm astounded at how bad it is. In fact with each listen I like it less and less and less.
Why has everyone been trumpeting this as the record of the year? Since February I've heard nothing but the greatest things about this album. After the first couple of listens I thought "Okay, the hype is just a little out of proportion here." But the more I listen to it the more I realize that the hype is flat out wrong. This album is ridiculous. It's crap. Don't buy it.
Longer rant TK.
Things are quiet at pgwp right now. I hope to get some posts going in the next few days, maybe next week. In the meantime, head over to the newsstand and pick up the newest issue of The Wire. The cover story with Kool Keith is hilarious. The man is so stream of consciousness it's brilliant. I wish it was online so I could lift a quote or two. The highlight, though, is his critique of women's underwear, which he thinks look like diapers.
The Wire does have a stream of one new Dr. Octagon track. The track sounded pretty fucked up (in a bad way) to me—lots of skipping, like there's an error in their streaming software. But I wouldn't put it past Keith if this were just how the song went.
Not to belabor my previous post, but it occured to me after posting that the newest Cat Power is the perfect case in point regarding the idiocy of a January release. The Greatest came out in January 2006 and got perfectly good reviews, though it didn't really make much of a lasting dent in many people's memories, apparently. Just think, if it had come out in the spring, maybe that season might not have felt so bleak. It easily would have stood out as the best of the season. But instead it came out in this limbo period when people were still making their Best of '05 lists. Likewise, if it had come out a few months earlier, it might have made it onto all of those lists.
Now her record label is going to the trouble of re-releasing the album just nine months after releasing the first time around. There's nothing different other than the packaging (and the lower, "please, please buy this record" price); Matador is just trying to get some more mileage out of an album that does, in fact, deserve more mileage. If they had released it at a sensible time, they probably wouldn't have had to bother with all this added hoopla.
Moments after putting up yesterday's post, I hopped over to Pitchfork to find that Clinic has a new album coming out. I was about to leap back here to revise my post and add Clinic to my "tentatively curious/excited" list, but it turns out the October release date is for Europe only. The geniuses at Domino prefer to let it leak illegally in the US for three months and then release it to lackluster legitimate sales in January.
Since when do record labels even release anything in January? It is notoriously the worst month of the year to release anything, anything at all, as retail stores across the nation are busy returning their unsold Xmas stock and bringing their inventory levels as low as possible in anticipation of tax season. But now we have both Clinic and the Shins to look forward to in that dreary month. Why the delay, if both albums are ready now? Especially since, as I made plain yesterday, the season looks so pathetic? (It's doubly curious as to why Sub Pop would choose to skip over Christmas for the Shins, or why, assuming that was unavoidable, they choose to dump it in such a low-profile month.)
Meanwhile, back to Clinic: P'fork has an "exclusive" video for Clinic's first single, "Harvest (within You)"—though I don't quite get how it's exclusive, what with that big YouTube logo in the lower-right corner. Anyway, the song is good, and video is kooky. Production values aside, it looks straight out of the early '80—all high-concept/no-logic. It's totally absurd, and sort of made me want to watch a Men Without Hats video.
The other day when I said there was a bunch of great new music to look forward to this fall, I must have been smoking crack. I was looking over the fall music preview in this month’s issue of Rolling Stone, and god but does everything look ho-hum at best. Granted, Rolling Stone is the most mainstream music mag in the world (for instance, I now know that every single person that was ever on American Idol has an album coming out in the next few months); surely, therefore, it passed over some upcoming gems—can someone please let me know what RS missed? Because I don’t think I can handle the rest of this year if this is all I have to look forward to.
The only album I’m truly excited about (aside from the Pernice Brothers) is TV On the Radio’s Return to Cookie Mountain. It was supposed to come out back in the spring, and they got a shit-ton of premature press before announcing that it would be pushed back. I’ve had time to be excited, ambivalent, stoked, bored, and ramped up all over again over the course of all the magazine articles and pushed-back release dates. By September 12th, I think I’ll still be on an upswing. I can’t wait—I think I’m the only person left in America who hasn’t heard a single track from the album. I’ve been willfully keeping my ears pure so I can experience the whole thing from beginning to end, fresh. In other words, my expectations are way too high and I’ll probably be disappointed. Uh-oh, here comes the downturn…
Aside from that, there are a few albums I’m curious about, if not lining up outside of Amoeba first thing in the morning on their release dates.
The Album Leaf has a new album, Into the Blue Again (Sept. 12) I enjoyed In a Safe Place, though it was, as the title implies, rather safe. Not to damn with faint praise, but I enjoy the Album Leaf as background music (which in fact I need a lot of). This will eventually make its way to an Amoeba purchase, but if a year went by before I bought it, I wouldn't notice.
Yusuf Islam, aka Cat Stevens, will release his first album of pop music since converting to Islam and changing his name more than twenty-five years ago. I love my two Cat Stevens greatest hits albums—there is no better thing to listen to in the morning, or on a Sunday, or any time you ever just want to feel good. However, every proper album I’ve heard by Stevens has had numerous missteps, and I’m doubly suspect of anything new, which will be the first to reflect his fundamentalist faith—and worse, his age.
Speaking of dormant songwriters, Sean Lennon will be releasing his second album, Friendly Fire (Sept. 26) a follow up to his 1998 debut. That album got tossed aside by a lot of people due to Sean not being John (but hey, at least he wasn’t Julian!). However I still have it on my iTunes and it’s a nice little album, if a little ““90s” in spots. If he can be taken on his own terms I think people would see he’s got some substance.
Meanwhile, a few more high-profile acts have some albums coming out, but for the life of me I just can’t get excited.
Beck’s new single, “Nausea,” is probably his worst single since one thing or another from Midnight Vultures. It sounds like he’s returned to territory he’s already mined, and it’s just not interesting to me. Advance press I’ve read for The Information (Oct. 3) seems to claim that the whole new album is a throwback to his earlier styles, so any curiosity I might have had has been quashed.
The Decemberists are preparing their major label debut, The Crane Wife (Oct. 3). They may be the first band ever where I thought the idea of major label suits telling them to tone it down and make a hit might be the thing that could ever happen to them. But instead I keep reading about 20-minute song cycles, ancient Japanese folklore, yadda yadda yadda. I hereby nominate Colin Meloy for the Most Squandered Potential award. I wish he’d just go write a book and get all this epic dandyism out of his system.
Modest Mouse is also returning this season (Dec. 19, to be exact), and even the random addition of Johnny Marr as a new full-time member can’t make me listen to Isaac Brock bark, yelp, and whimper more trailerpark aphorisms.
Finally, Yo La Tengo's I Am Not Afraid of You and I Will Beat Your Ass (Sept. 12). I got no beef with YLT, but the weird thing about them is that they made the perfect album, And Then Nothing Turned Itself Inside Out, and it sated my appetite for the rest of my years. I’m so satisfied by that album that I just don’t want to hear anything else. That’s a little ludicrous, but that’s the way it is.
That’s all I’m aware of for this season. Please tell me if there’s anything else I should be excited about! I have no faith in any of these bands to really lift 2006 out of the musical doldrums, and the spring crop, which certainly looked promising, totally failed to meet expectations. My year-end top ten list is, so far, a top two. And that’s sad.